Educational inequalities between social classes are large and persistent in the UK. Students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds have much lower attainment and engage less with education than their peers from advantaged backgrounds. Although structural factors contribute significantly to these inequalities, social psychological processes also play a crucial but less visible role. We draw on the social identity approach to propose a new model of how social and cultural factors in the local educational context shape the meaning of people’s social class identities in ways that create and sustain inequalities. Our identities-in-context model brings into focus educational contexts in which lower-class people are expected to perform badly, are not well represented in high-status educational roles or institutions, and are negatively disposed toward education. We argue that, for lower-class people, these contexts ignite a sense of social identity threat and incompatibility between their background and doing well in education. These, in turn, lead to poorer educational outcomes. We propose ways in which our model can be used to inform social psychological interventions that aim to reduce educational inequalities between social classes.
|Title of host publication||The Social Psychology of Inequality|
|Editors||Jolanda Jetten, Kim Peters|
|Number of pages||19|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Nov 2019|